A Tea Addict's Journal

Drinking up teas

September 24, 2017 · 18 Comments

There are a few reasons I haven’t been updating much on my blog recently. The most basic one is I moved recently, so a lot of stuff got moved and many of my teas got moved offsite, because it’s easier to manage that way. The more important one is because of the big Photobucket blackmail issue. I have been slowly converting all my old Photobucket links to instead hosting the photos on my own blog, which is a slow process unfortunately.

However, the biggest reason is because I just don’t have a lot of very interesting things to say these days about tea. I mean, what haven’t I already covered in the 10+ years that this blog has been alive? Sure, I can update on some topics, and there are new things that happen all the time, but really, most of them are quite similar to what have come before. There are very few genuinely new things that I encounter these days with regards to tea (there’s one new black tea that I got a hold of recently that I will talk about at some point).

I also haven’t been drinking much new tea. After all, there’s only so much tea one can drink, and there’s plenty of older teas now that I have bought years back that are now at least drinkable. I’ve reached the point where I’m not really in the market for much new tea anymore – there’s really just no need. Why should I sample a whole bunch of new tea when I’m not interesting in buying almost any of them? It’s always interesting, of course, to do so, but that interest is tempered by the fact that many of them are usually terrible, or at least not great. When I can drink something that is great now, versus the high chance of having something that really isn’t very good (and often overpriced) …. the choice is obvious.

So I suppose that’s a pretty unsatisfactory explanation. I know if I were living in a city with a more interesting tea scene, I may be out drinking tea more, but then, having two kids will always crimp your style that way. The way the current market is though with tea, I just don’t see myself being that interested in buying anything much – and the few things I do buy, you can’t get easily online, making it a bit of a difficult thing to talk about where I’m basically talking about a pie in the sky.

In case you’re worried though, I do intend to keep this blog around, even if it costs me in hosting fees and what not. A lot of discussion of tea related things have moved from things like personal blogs to social media of various sorts, with some facebook groups being particularly active, and at least a few slack groups that I know of. There’s a problem with all those conversations though – they’re fleeting. Once done, trying to find it again is next to impossible, even if you yourself participated in it. Quite often people would tell me that they recently discovered my blog and have gone through a lot of my older posts, and have found them useful. You can’t do that with social media posts, not really anyway, and there’s almost no way to actually save any of those conversations unless you do some serious work to keep an archive of them, which is very unsatisfactory. This blog is by no means an authority on anything, but I do think some 10 years of tea writing is worth something. That’s the reason why I will bother to go through all my old posts to migrate the photos over, even though many of them are of tea reviews years ago for teas that nobody can find anymore, and for which my opinion is probably largely outdated if not completely invalid at this point. I guess that’s me being a historian, but I will at least try to keep the record straight.

I do, however, need to continue documenting my teapots, and have been lazy about it after the move even though it did give me a pretty good idea of exactly how many I have. So, in the absence of more interesting posts about tea, you can probably expect to see more teaware in the near future.

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18 responses so far ↓

  • kyf // September 24, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Reply

    Yes, very informative blog. It is good to see tea markets getting better and hopefully unbiased information. Any comments on the following paragraphs?

    There is a bias among some people for sheng over shu and “boutique” over factory. If you know what you’re doing boutique sheng could be good for something. However, in general they are not. The bias was probably brought back by people rushing to Kunming to learn about puerh, not realizing that Yunnan natives and most Chinese don’t drink puerh and don’t know what puerh is. Puerh is traditionally consumed by people in HK, Southeast Asia, Tibet & Mongolia. Processing puerh has secrets; probably different for each kind of export. Local Yunnan tea farmers sell maocha and don’t know how to process it. If a tea tourist goes to Yunnan to boutique tea, he will usually come back with a random mix of green or oolong tea cakes using Yunnan leaves, but not puerh tea cakes. The confusion is deepened by the fact that green or oolong teas are better for drink it now and puerh is not.

    Some confusing facts. Kunming is not the distribution center of puerh tea. Places in Guangdong are. Most local Yunnan and Chinese people don’t know what puerh is either and usually prefer green & oolong over real puerh tea. So the cakes you get in Kunming may be green & oolong cakes using Yunnan leaves. Tea vendors who have built relationships in Kunming may be reluctant or unable to go to Guangdong. To get real puerh tea one has to deal with Guangdong dealers & not Yunnan farmers.

  • kyf // September 24, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Reply

    Other confusing facts. High maocha prices mean better leaf quality? Well, farmers don’t know/care what the maocha is for; green, oolong, or puerh cakes. But the high priced maocha have probably been processed as green tea & for drink it now. Puerh producers/drinkers should probably stay away from tea made with high priced maocha.

    High aroma or fragrance? Floral/fruity? Again, that’s for green or oolong tea. Puerh drinkers don’t drink puerh for that.

    • MarshalN // September 28, 2017 at 1:11 am | Reply

      This sounds mostly accurate and is similar to my line of thinking

      • kyf // September 28, 2017 at 8:29 am | Reply

        Yes, Guangdong may not be the best place to get real Puerh tea for retail customers: possibly too many fakes & too much price manipulation. Why don’t you just say HK is still the ideal place to get real Puerh? Or Southeast Asia.

        But big Puerh dealers & distribution are in Guangdong, right?

  • Cwyn // September 24, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Reply

    One hand up for the long form blog format in an age of tea coverage in memes and chat one-liners. Two hands up for the journey of a man in search of good tea, the small shops, a one-off, drinking sick and we worry, drinking well and we envy. There is a novel in these posts, we do find it in this blog which, unlike tea, must be consumed from the bottom up. And, like Salinger we still wonder what happens to the man. I will hope you keep writing. Many thanks!

  • Su // September 24, 2017 at 9:11 pm | Reply

    A city with a more interesting tea scene than Hong Kong ?

  • candanabhikkhu // September 26, 2017 at 7:43 am | Reply

    What do you mean by “the way the current market is though with tea”?
    Also it’s my feeling that the facebook groups you mention mainly comprise people showing off, look how much I paid for my XYZ cake, everyday drinking for me! One such place even has “Puer Airport Codes for Beginners” like we all drink fancy pricey tea. Tasting notes posted are all very much of the type 1st infusion: leather, tobacco, stone fruits 2nd infusion: stone fruits, tobacco, leather.blah blah blah. All the way through to “I got a touch of smoke with the 53rd infusion”
    You are missed like an old friend.

    • MarshalN // September 28, 2017 at 1:12 am | Reply

      There’s definitely an element of that, although there’s also just a lot of beginner questions that could easily be solved with a long FAQ of some sort. But the nature of social media means that old stuff is always discarded and you’re starting fresh every day, which is horrible for storing knowledge.

    • mgualt // October 18, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Reply

      Perhaps some are showing off, but most are just learning. If you aren’t interested in or don’t value detailed tasting notes, then don’t read them. Each person has their own taste in tea and in notes, and I prefer not to denigrate someone simply because I don’t appreciate their style. I agree with you in one thing, which is that one shouldn’t give the impression that good tea need be expensive.

      • MarshalN // October 19, 2017 at 9:56 am | Reply

        Agreed – a lot are just newcomers. The problem, as I said before, is there’s no way to “save” the old questions and answers so you end up with a lot of people repeating the same questions and so the discussion never really gets very far

  • Jakub T // October 2, 2017 at 2:29 am | Reply

    Thank you for keeping it alive, it’s a great blog! It really helped me when I was starting with puerh.

  • Marcin // October 7, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Reply

    Any Slack tea communities that you could recommend?

  • Tiago // October 23, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Reply

    Hi MarshalN, well i always like your articles. 🙂 i wanted to ask you something. Ever since the 2017 menghai jin dayi came out its price start decreasing. Have you tried it? Any idea why? I know it’s a bit off topic. Sorry for that.

    • jacobo // October 30, 2017 at 5:59 am | Reply

      Your Blog is the best, I understand you but i encourage you to keep on, there ist soo much to share, alone to say something about the development off you teas… already read must off your articles and thank you for it and for keeping it online!
      all the best

  • Helena // October 28, 2017 at 3:59 am | Reply

    Great post. I am not sure whether this was meant to sound a bit melancholic, perhaps as a perfect post for the autumn, but I found it very comforting.

  • Tiago // December 6, 2017 at 9:59 am | Reply

    Hi Marshaln, i just read your article about storing tea. It was written in 2012. I still find your blog tremendously relevant. Just wanted to say that.

    Maybe you need a new adventure. Like producing your own tea. 🙂

    All the best

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